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National Longitudinal Surveys

Mature and Young Women Data Overview

The National Longitudinal Survey of Mature and Young Women (NLSW) started in the mid-1960s because the U.S. Department of Labor was interested in studying the employment patterns of two groups of women. Respondents to the NLS of Mature Women were in their 30s and early 40s, and many were reentering the workforce and balancing the roles of homemaker, mother, and labor force participant. The NLS of Young Women included women in their teens and early 20s, who were completing school, making initial career and job decisions, and starting families. The surveys of both cohorts were discontinued after the 2003 interviews. The Mature Women were survey 21 times and Young Women were survey 22 times.  Public use data are available on the NLS Investigator

Topical Guide to the Data

The topical guide presents detailed information on major subject areas and variables in the NLSW survey.  The Asterisk Tables provide summary tables of variables selected from Round 1 to the latest round.  Below are the topics gathered in the survey.

Introduction to the Sample

During 1966, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted two household screenings. Using information about household residents compiled during these screenings, two cohorts of women were established: 5,393 Mature Women ages 30 to 44 as of March 31, 1967, and 5,533 Young Women ages 14 to 24 as of December 31, 1967. Each sample group represented the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of women in the age group residing in the United States at the time the samples were selected. To meet the requirement of providing statistically reliable estimates for black Americans, blacks were to be represented in the sample at twice their expected rate in the population.  

During 1967 and 1968, the first interviews were conducted with the NLS of Mature Women and the NLS of Young Women, respectively. Of the 5,393 Mature Women identified during the household screenings, 5,083 (94 percent) participated in the 1967 interview.  Approximately 44 percent (2,237) of the Round 1 sample were interviewed in the last survey in 2003. Of the 5,533 Young Women designated for interview, 5,159 (93 percent) completed the initial interview in 1968.  Approximately 55 percent of the Round 1 sample were interviewed in the last survey in 2003.  Learn more about the Sample Design and Screening ProcessInterview Methods, and Retention and Reason for Non_interview.

Using and Understanding the Data

Information on survey instruments, variable types, the interviewing process, item nonresponse, sample weights and design effects, data documentation, and how to access the data are available on the NLS Original Cohorts User Guides and Documentation section.

Other Documentation

Accessing Data

View Accessing Data for detailed information on accessing the NLSM public-use and the confidential files. The public-use data are available on the Investigator.  


Last Modified Date: April 28, 2020